Article courtesy of majorleaguefishing.com | Joel Shangle
When it all came down to it in the finals of the 2018 General Tire World Championship, Greg Hackney did what Greg Hackney does best.
Hackney, one of the Top 10 career tournament earners of all time, a Forrest Wood Cup winner and a former B.A.S.S. Elite Series Angler of the Year, put a flippin’ stick in one hand, 1 3/8-ounce tungsten flipping weight and black/blue creature bait in the other, and went to work on Florida’s Kenansville Lake.
While the other three anglers in the championship – Mike Iaconelli, Skeet Reese and Andy Montgomery – battled a strong north wind as they alternated between vibrating jigs and flipping, Hackney ducked behind a levee on Kenansville’s north end and went to work with the same basic setup that he had used to catch 32 of his 33 fish in the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds earlier in the week.
The result: 10 largemouth for 32 pounds, 6 ounces, a 6-11 margin of victory over Iaconelli, and a World Championship title in one of the most revered bass-fishing locations in the world.
“Florida was one of the first places I ever fished out of state back when I had the bright idea that I wanted to be a professional angler,” Hackney said. “I’d watched tons of TV shows, read all the magazines. To me, Florida was one of the states where bass fishing originated. This state already had a special place in my heart, but now I guess it’s even more special.”
Not that it was a sashay in the park for Hackney.
The Louisianan managed to put only one fish on SCORETRACKER in the first period; Reese, meanwhile, rang up five fish for 10-2 on a vibrating jig.
But as the wind picked up and the majority of Kenansville’s 2,500 acres became unfishable, Hackney’s mat-flipping focus paid off. He scored four fish for 12-10 in the second period and then added 14-10 to his total in the final 90 minutes of competition to build a lead that even the big fish of the tournament – Iaconelli’s 7-2 caught late in the third period – couldn’t eclipse.
Iaconelli finished second with 25-11, Montgomery was third with 18-11 and Reese was fourth with 13-11.
Hackney played the wind right
Hackney’s game plan developed almost as soon as executive producer Randy White handed him the map of the day’s competition waters. Knowing that a 15- to 20-mile-per-hour wind would be a major factor throughout the day, and that a slight drop in the water temperature would put the lake’s largemouth in a hide-and-seek mode, Hackney zeroed in on the grass mats on the north end and located an area that wasn’t as heavily influenced by the blustery weather.
“The weather blew out about 2/3 of the lake today, so every decision I made was based on that,” Hackney admitted. “I concentrated on flippin’ mats on the north end, fishing behind a levee. (Flipping mats) is a great technique when you have a cold front, because just a 2 or 3-degree drop in the water temperature causes these Florida fish to run and hide under a mat.
“I know there were probably mats all over the lake, but the difference for me was that I fished totally out of the wind. Nothing I did was a secret, I just stayed out of the wind.”